Are Students Required to Recite the Pledge of Allegiance?


86th AW/PA

Students from Ramstein Middle School resite the Pledge of Allegiance during a commemoration ceremony, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sep. 9, 2011. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Sep. 11th attacks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brea Miller)

Mollie Phillips, Reporter

To pledge or not to pledge? That is the question. Every morning at 8:05, GBHS students are asked to dutifully stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But where did this tradition originate?

In the year 1891, president Benjamin Harrison issued a call for the development of a special patriotic school program to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus Day. A Christian Socialist and Baptist minister by the name of Francis Bellamy wrote the first draft of the Pledge of Allegiance for the program. Schools became rather familiar with the pledge and began saying it on a regular basis. So how did it last all these years? The word “allegiance” is defined as “Loyalty or commitment of a subordinate to a superior or of an individual to a group or cause.” This means that when you recite the Pledge of Allegiance, you are literally pledging your loyalty to this country. So is the recitation of it mandatory for students?

A 2012 state statute, number 72-5308, says schools in Kansas are required to participate in “A daily recitation of the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.” According to GBHS principal Tim Friess, “Our expectation at GBHS is that students will stand and recite the Pledge, but if they choose not to, then please sit respectfully while the rest of the students do so.” He continues and says, “All that we have ever asked our students to do is stand and recite the Pledge. If they choose to not stand and recite the Pledge we simply ask and expect them to respect the time of the recitation.”

If a student does not wish to stand for any reason, they will not get punished. It’s a different story if they are being disrespectful, but according to research and an interview, there is no punishment for politely refusing. There is also no written statement in the handbook about this matter. Friess states, “There is no clear statement in the handbook for no other reason than I haven’t made it mandatory for students to recite the Pledge, merely that we, as a school, have to recite it. I have not put it in the handbook because it is only an expectation that our students will be respectful at all times and the Pledge is not a mandate for all students.”

State statute says that we are required to have the Pledge recited each morning. For many, this is an opportunity to express their gratitude for the freedoms our country affords them and a means to pay respects to the men and women who have sacrificed to protect those freedoms. Others, however, may choose to sit the Pledge out for reasons that range from religious principals to silent protest. Either way, the choice to pledge or not to pledge is up to the individual.